Category Archives: From the Pastor

Christmas Eve Service

Christmas Eve Candle Light Service
Thursday December 24, 2020
6:00 pm Outdoors 

We are inviting our Claybanks United Methodist Church Family to a special and unique blessing as we gather outdoor on Christmas Eve. Our church will be decorated outside to recognize our worship celebration.

The service will be offered in our traditional Christmas Eve fashion with singing, Scripture readings, lighting of our Advent Wreath Candles, meditational thoughts and candle lighting (electric candles provided) with the singing of “Silent Night” to conclude our worship time together.

We will be gather and remain in our autos. You will be able to participate in our service by tuning your auto radio to 103.9 FM. Bulletins with responsive readings and Carols will be provided. We will have an offering plate available, ushers to guide us in parking and other special needs for this unique worship service.

We look forward to seeing you and our extended family on Christmas Eve! 


Pastor’s Weekly Update


I pray that you and your family are well and dealing with our staying at home in positive ways!

June Freeman will be creating a Newsletter next week for Claybanks UMC and is in need of your input. Would you please send her articles (in cut and paste form if possible) by Tuesday, April 28th. Her email address is June is taking over the secretarial duties from Mechelle Schneider. Thank you, Mechelle, for serving as our Secretary at Claybanks these past couple of years!

I will be leading the Mears, Shelby, and Claybanks Worship Service on the radio and web this Sunday the 26th. I am in need of a walking stick. Does anyone have one that I can use as a prop in my message?

I continue to contact our church family through all the different possible ways of communicating during this unusual time. If there is a need that you have become aware of please share it with me by phone or email.

Our conference and district are staying in contact with us as pastors multiple times per week. I will be sharing some of these communications in our newsletter next week.

Peace and stay safe,


From your Pastor


Let me begin with a devotional thought. Back in February just prior to the beginning of Lent I was made aware of a new devotional book written by Adam Hamilton called “Living Unafraid”. Adam released this book back in November 2019 and I had committed to do an additional devotion during the time of Lent so I ordered the book. It was in such demand that I had to wait and until the middle of Lent before the book arrived. Not knowing how Covid-19 would affect us so dramatically I believe it was one of those “God things” that intersect my life. I have found it very comforting to use during this time and I have just completed the book and have committed for an amount of time in the future to reread and further meditate upon how God works in our lives during difficult and trying times.

From chapter 14 “Living Unafraid” Isaiah 43:1 – 3a “But now says the Lord the one who created you, Jake, the one who formed you, Israel; do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not consume you. I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Adam noted that while we may not have a journey that takes us into floods and fire there are other overwhelming circumstances that are part of our life’s journey. Adam says that notice that God does not say “if” you pass through he says “when” you pass through I will be with you. A long time ago as I was growing as a Christian and my prayer life became stronger and stronger I learned that as I prayed through difficult situations that I needed to pray for God’s STRENGTH to get us through the floods and fires of our lives. My prayer during Covid-19 has been that we will recognize the strength that God has given us and that as Isaiah says he will be with us through this difficult and trying time as we all journey to get to the promised land. During this time as Reba and I stay in our home and are protected by where we live in Michigan as we isolate and stay safe I think about those who have been directly touched by Covid-19. I worry about those who have lost loved ones and are not able to have a funeral in the traditional sense that we are so used to having. I am concerned and pray for those who have fragile members of their families and are in a constant state of worry. I lift up those who struggle now financially because of loss of employment and the delaying time because of an overburdened system as they look for financial assistance from a number of possible sources. For those family and friends that cannot visit and connect closely with those that are in nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, jails, and any place were restrictive measures have been put in place. My prayers are wrapped around those who have other illnesses that are not being attended to because of an overloaded health system. I pray for what is to yet to come and yet to be seen and experienced. I pray for openness and understanding as we give up some of our personal rights and privileges for the good and protection of our sisters and brothers. I pray for strong leadership in all levels of our government. I pray for the world beyond our country’s boundaries. I ask God for strength in so many, many areas of our lives…..
God did not will the Covid-19 virus upon us. It is part of the ecological system that is beyond our complete understanding. Because of this my prayer is and always will be that God will give us the strength and understanding to realize tomorrow is not a promise, it is a gift and that we need to recognize the changes that have come into our lives and take what is good and build upon it for a better tomorrow. We are not alone and it is through our journey with Jesus Christ that we will find peace within our hearts and through the guiding the Holy Spirit our tomorrows will be better than our todays.

During these past weeks, I have been taking time to call our Claybanks United Methodist Church families. It is been good to connect with so many and talk about how they are experiencing life as we stay at home and stay safe. One of the questions that I have been asked many times by those that I have talked to is what can we do to help others. My first answer is to stay home to stay safe and do not pass on Covid-19 to others. To pray for the needs of others is something that all of us can do. Depending on our gifts and skills some of us will be called upon to assist others to help address immediate needs within our community. I know all of us can prepare now to be of assistance when restrictions are lifted and we can better respond to the needs that will be all around us. Next week I plan to communicate to you some of the resources that are now and will become available to us.

There is now a need for us at Claybanks United Methodist Church. In talking with those who are part of our financial structure of the church we recognize that because we have not been in church for over a month now and will not be in church in the immediate future our financial position is slowly changing. We know that during this time you have been setting aside your normal giving with the plan to put your donations in the plate when we come back to worship together again. But because of the extended time, the finance committee of the church is asking that you send your donations in the form of checks to our PO Box 104, Montague, MI 49437. We ask that you prayerfully consider doing this on an ongoing basis so that we can meet the financial responsibilities that are ongoing as part of our church operation. Thank you and may God bless our giving and sacrifice.

I close this communication to you with a prayer beginning from Adam Hamilton’s book “Living Unafraid”.

Lord, help me to be grateful for what I have, to remember that I do not need most of what I want, and that joy is found in simplicity and generosity. Give us the strength that will see us through this time and the times ahead knowing that you are always with us knowing that your hands reach out and guide us through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Easter Service Online

Dear Claybanks United Methodist Family,

It is my prayer that you have been able to be blessed by many of the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship experiences online. Reba and I were able to share in a few and look forward to Pastor Anne Rigler as she broadcast from Mears United Methodist Church tomorrow Easter Sunday at 9:15 am. To find the Mears worship webcast just go to their website at Mears United Methodist Church and click on the link or tune your radio to 100.5 FM. We are also going to be a part of Bishop Bards Easter worship which can be found at at 10:00 am. I also will be looking for opportunities to celebrate Easter with many of the TV broadcasts.

Let us celebrate that Jesus has Risen! Alleluia! in so many different ways on this Easter Sunday.

Until we gather together at Claybanks United Methodist on a Sunday not to far in the future be blessed!

Pastor Gary